Fadnavis offers to quit as Maha dy CM in poll churn | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Fadnavis offers to quit as Maha dy CM in poll churn

By, Mumbai
Jun 06, 2024 06:42 AM IST

Deputy CM Fadnavis takes responsibility for BJP's poor showing in Maharashtra, requests to step down; faces resistance from party colleagues.

Deputy chief minister and the face of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, on Wednesday took responsibility for the party’s poor showing in the state and requested the central leadership to relieve him of all responsibilities in the government — the first potential casualty of the BJP’s inability to win a national majority in a general elections it expected to sweep.

Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis alongwith BJP leaders addressing the media, at BJP office, in Mumbai, India, on Wednesday. (Bhushan Koyande/HT Photo)
Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis alongwith BJP leaders addressing the media, at BJP office, in Mumbai, India, on Wednesday. (Bhushan Koyande/HT Photo)

In Maharashtra, it had mounted an ambitious Mission 45 for the Mahayuti alliance to win as many seats but ended up with only 17, of which the BJP won just nine. A day after the results, Fadnavis told reporters that he wanted to step down as deputy CM so he could focus on winning the assembly elections slated for October this year.

This is the second time in two years that he has expressed his reluctance to be deputy CM. In June 2022, when the BJP derailed the MVA government, Eknath Shinde was made chief minister, and in a surprise move Fadnavis, who led the BJP-Shiv Sena government in the state for five years from 2014, was announced as his deputy despite his protestations.

This time, too, it is unlikely that the central leadership will entertain his request. Fadnavis, one of the sharpest administrators in Maharashtra, is the key that holds a disparate three-party cabinet together. However, the party and the alliance’s poor showing in the state has already led to some internal churn. The BJP contested 28 seats but none of its nine wins came in Marathwada (where it fielded candidates in four seats), and two victories each came in the prosperous western Maharashtra region (it contested six here) and in Vidarbha (it contested seven), which were its traditional strongholds. The party’s vote share, too, dipped from 27.84% in 2019 to 26.17% in 2024.

The party’s disappointing show in Maharashtra, a key state for the BJP and the second largest in India with 48 Lok Sabha seats, significantly dented the overall tally of the party and the National Democratic Alliance.

“I was leading the party in the election and hence take full responsibility of the poor performance and the setback to the BJP. We have identified the reasons for our debacle and there is need for the corrective steps to be taken ahead of the Assembly elections. I have therefore decided to request to my central leadership to divest me of the responsibility of the post of deputy chief minister and allow me to work for the party full time,” Fadnavis said on Wednesday.

His decision was being viewed as a political move aimed at galvanising the party cadre and also as a pre-emptive step to prevent his detractors within the party — of whom there are several — from targeting him ahead of the assembly elections.

Fadnavis addressed the media at the party headquarters in Mumbai after meeting the election management committee comprising top state BJP leaders. The party’s failure to counter the “false narrative about scrapping of the constitution,” partial anti-incumbency and issues related to the price to onion, cotton and soyabean were some of the reasons for their poor showing, he said.

Fadnavis’s offer to step down was immediately met by a chorus of protest. Several party colleagues rushed to his Malabar Hill residence to convince him to reconsider while CM Shinde said the three parties contested together and hence they were collectively responsible for the electoral debacle. “We have requested him to devote four days to organisation and remaining days of the week to the governance and we are hopeful that he will accept our request,” said state BJP chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule.

Other party leaders, speaking off the record, said neither the BJP leadership was expected to accept his resignation and neither was Fadnavis expected to pursue the matter. “The announcement is to keep his detractors within the party and the government under check. He is not happy with some of the decisions taken by CM Shinde and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar. At the same time, some of his recommendations were overruled by the central leadership during the Lok Sabha polls. He wants to send out a message with this move,” said a leader close to Fadnavis.

“Our strike rate would have touched double digits had the BJP not insisted on having a last-minute say in candidate selection in 4-5 seats, including in Yavatmal and Nashik,” grumbled a senior Shiv Sena leader who also cited the example of Mumbai South where the party wanted Milind Deora to contest but was forced by the BJP to field Yamini Jadhav, and that too 24 hours before nominations closed.

Shinde’s Shiv Sena won seven seats and the Nationalist Congress Party under Ajit Pawar managed to win just one.

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